Updated 2:40 p.m.
It’s official: Butler and Xavier are leaving the Atlantic 10.
The two schools, previously considered potential partners for the Catholic 7, announced they will head to the new Big East today, joining Creighton there next season.
“I wish Xavier University and Butler University all the best in their new conference,” A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in a statement.”They are two outstanding universities with outstanding people; our partnership has been mutually beneficial and successful.”
“As a longtime strong A-10 member, Xavier’s departure is unfortunate. Butler’s departure is a by-product of the chaotic conference realignment environment,” McGlade’s statement said. “BU’s association with the A-10 has been a fun ride this year; no regrets from the Atlantic 10 for providing a home for them during the 2012-13 season.”
The move removes two of the A-10′s most successful men’s basketball programs from its ranks and reduces the conference’s profile among the Midwest market.
Early exit fees from the Atlantic 10 are $2 million when a university gives the league less than a year’s notice of its departure. Additionally, both schools will likely have to forfeit this year’s postseason revenue.
“As a conference, we anticipated this move and are prepared to proactively move forward. The A-10 is strong – we have 16 basketball teams participating in the postseason and will focus on them right now,” McGlade’s statement said. “NCAA Postseason is an exciting time not to be overshadowed by conference realignment.”
Athletic director Patrick Nero previously told The Hatchet that the conference was ready to address the potential loss of members should a university leave to join the Catholic 7. The searches for VCU and Butler, he said, resulted in candidates beyond those two programs that could make valuable additions to the league.
Still, the onus is now upon the Atlantic 10 to replace outgoing members with equally strong candidates so the league’s national profile – at an all-time high with nine postseason bids this year – doesn’t suffer a blow.
Butler, which fell in the semifinal round of the A-10 championship to Saint Louis, earned an NCAA tournament bid this season after finishing with a 26-8 overall record. Xavier fell to Saint Joseph’s in the first round of the A-10 tournament this year, and did not advance to postseason play, the first time in seven years it didn’t earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. Last season, the Musketeers traveled to the Sweet Sixteen, but posted a 17-14 overall record this season.